Club Culture: A Guide to Glasgow's Nightlife – by Optimo


Interview by Will Coldwell, The Guardian, March 26, 2015

What makes the Glasgow nightlife scene so special?
When you live here for a while you start to understand that there’s something running through this city that seems to nourish the unstoppable need to produce that all artists have. Things get done, no matter whether there are obstacles in the way. That’s why I live here and it’s this energy that has fed into the nightlife scene; that’s what makes it special. This – and the decor in the Sub Club toilets!

How does partying in Glasgow compare with other cities?
I’d say there’s an intensity to the party scene, which is heightened by the short licencing hours that we have. Clubs are generally only open from 11pm till 3am – with only occasional extensions till 4am. When people arrive at a club at 11pm they’re raring to go because they know it’ll be over in 4 hours. Apart from anything though, it’s really hedonistic.

What’s the atmosphere like when you’re out?
There’s a huge party atmosphere in the streets of Glasgow on Friday and Saturday nights. There’s always a lot of noise, a lot of flesh, a lot of emotion and a lot of bad food; girls walking home together in their bare feet, eating chips.

Who are the new DJs and producers to listen out for?
There are many young DJs and producers in the city – and more new ones coming along all the time. One of the young team making great tracks is Denis Sulta who is releasing on Glasgow’s Dixon Avenue Basement Jams label. Others include Mia Dora (Optimo Trax No12), Nightwave, Golden Teacher, Jasper James ( Harri from Subculture ’s son), Laetitia Pleiades , MWX, Telford, General Ludd … the list can go on.

Where should you start your night?
If I was to go out for dinner and a drink before a club, I’d head to the Finnieston area. It’s buzzing there and you can get a nice bit of fish for your tea, even though you have to eat it off a slate and drink your drink out of a jam jar. There’s a great bar and venue called Distill along Argyle Street where a lot of good DJs have regular slots. Near the top of Sauchiehall Street there is Chinaski’s pub, and also the Berkeley Suite, which is a tiny, old-fashioned gin palace upstairs and a club for about 250 below. Maybe try one of the city’s really old pubs such as The Saracen’s Head on Gallowgate, which is close to the Barrowland Ballroom. It’s an amazing place, ask for a pint of Shammy.

Which club nights are worth checking out?
There are loads of great parties at the minute: there’s the Numbers parties at various locations around the city. There’s a party by some young lads called Night of the Jaguar (I’ve played at it myself recently) and that’s at the School of Art. There’s Highlife run by Brian D’Souza (Auntie Flo) and Esa, Vitamins, Melting Pot, we are doing our own Optimo party bi-monthly at Sub Club and there’s what’s probably the longest-running party in clubbing history, Subculture, which is at Sub Club every Saturday night.


Berkeley Suite

Horse Meat Disco kicking things off in the Berkeley Suite. Photograph: Michael James/The Berkeley Suite

Which club has the most history?
It has to be the Sub Club. Just continuing for that long as an independent club and sticking to its guns, regarding what happens there, is remarkable. The people behind the club (Mike, Ricky and Barry) are genuinely into music, the security are friendly, the sound system is great, the crowd is wild; that’s why it’s had such longevity and why it is probably the most important club in the city.

How about newer clubs? Which ones are really making an impression?
There’s a great little club on Queen Street called La Cheetah at Max’s Bar on Queen Street. It’s a basement that holds about 200 people and the atmosphere down in there is magic..


Subclub, Glasgow

Sub Club, Glasgow’s longest-running club

Where should you go for something truly alternative?
The Poetry Club. It is literally a poetry club – hosting everything from spoken word performances to the more experimental side of music. It functions as an ever-evolving artwork and was opened by the artist Jim Lambie. Events could be … a Patti Smith poetry session, a noise show, an art auction or it may just be an idea someone suggested and that it’s willing to host. But it’s a destination venue, off the beaten track a bit. It’s somewhere where you’re going to have to know what’s going on before you visit, not somewhere you stumble upon.

Can you describe Glasgow’s nightlife scene in three words?
Eleven till three.

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